Questions about communications and efficiency, as well as complaints from residents about clearing cul-de-sacs, were raised at Edmonton city hall during a mid-season snow-removal report.
Friday’s debate was a continuation of a discussion that started earlier this week about the city’s snow-clearing policy, priority routes and communicating snow-clearing schedules with residents.
“I had more concerns come through my office this year than any other year that I’ve been here, so I think it merits a discussion,” Councillor Michael Walters said Wednesday.
“Something is amiss here,” said Councillor Tim Cartmell on Friday.
“We hear it a lot. We’re hearing it more year over year. They want to see us be more effective. And I think that’s really the message we have to take away: our citizens are really frustrated.”
One issue that was raised was the number of complaints to councillors and through 311 regarding the clearing of residential cul-de-sacs.
Cul-de-sacs are often not cleared at the same time that city crews blade residential neigbourhoods. Cul-de-sacs are cleared later by contractors with more equipment that can more easily maneuver the tighter spaces.
“Our regular plow trucks are limited in their effectiveness at maintaining cul-de-sacs due to the tight turning radiuses in those areas so contractors are used to complete the work,” city spokesperson Rohit Sandhu told Global News.
“We, the city, don’t own the specific pieces of equipment but that doesn’t mean we don’t have access to that through contractors, so that’s how we approach it,” Deputy City Manager Gord Cebryk explained.
“As with any process that we have, we try to deliver it the most efficient way that we can. From efficiency and the perspective of trying to deliver the best service, we don’t want to purchase equipment that is going to be idle 95 per cent of the time, so that is when we look at other resources, such as contractors.”
“Unfortunately, we don’t clear cul-de-sacs until later in the process because we have challenges with our equipment,” Cartmell said, when asking if straight roads leading to cul-de-sacs would be cleared during residential blading.
“It would vary neighbourhood to neighbourhood,” said Andrew Grant, who runs the city’s infrastructure field operations. “If there’s a small entrance that has a cul-de-sac attached to it, likely that small portion of road also wouldn’t get complete because there’s nowhere for the truck to turn around if there’s traffic in the way.
“But the longer segments of road attached to the cul-de-sacs should be cleared in the residential blading cycle… some of these decisions are made in the field.”
Cartmell wants that differentiation made clear to residents.
“From a communication perspective, someone who lives on a residential cul-de-sac hears ‘residential blading’ and thinks blading is coming, but that’s not necessarily true.”
Cebryk admitted: “it’s not as clear as it needs to be.”
WATCH BELOW (Feb. 13): Residential blading is expected to resume in Edmonton soon but as that happens, more questions are being raised about how Edmonton has dealt with snow clearing this winter. Vinesh Pratap reports.
Currently, Edmonton roads are cleared of snow on a priority basis.
Priority 1 roads are freeways, arterial roads and business districts. They are cleared within 24 to 48 hours of a major snowfall.
Priority 2 roads are collector/bus routes and transit park-and-ride access roads. They are cleared within 48 hours.
Priority 3 roads are local industrial roadways. They are cleared within five days.
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Priority 4 roads are residential streets and alleys, but they’re only cleared once a five-centimetre snowpack has formed. Crews measure snowpack levels on residential roads after snowfalls, the city says. Painted bike lanes are cleared at the same time as the closest street.
Cul-de-sacs aren’t specifically mentioned in the city’s snow and ice-clearing policy. They will be part of the review slated for June.
Currently, when cul-de-sac clearing occurs, it involves both plowing and removing the snow to bare pavement.
“It’s part of the residential program and what we want to do is have a good discussion on how to best integrate all the different components of the residential parking, the residential snow clearing, the cul-de-sacs, the new designs of the roadway system, and put all of that into some options that council can consider,” Cebryk said.
There are 3,271 cul-de-sacs in Edmonton.
Councillor Aaron Paquette also asked why the city doesn’t put up some signs ahead of residential blading so that people don’t have to check the website.
A more thorough discussion around Edmonton’s snow- and ice-clearing policy will take place in June.
WATCH BELOW (Feb. 12): An Edmonton councillor says he’s heard an increase in complaints this winter over the city’s snow plow program. As Vinesh Pratap explains, frustration is mounting as the snow continues to pile up.